Probably never? Well, here’s a reason to celebrate: The bison was recently named the national mammal of the United States by President Obama! The law he signed—the National Bison Legacy Act—doesn’t offer any new protections to bison (also known as buffalo), but it does raise their status to that of an official symbol of America, similar to the bald eagle.
This is a long-overdue and important recognition for the bison, an icon of America and revered symbol of Native Americans that once roamed in the millions but then was nearly decimated by the end of the 1800s. But thanks to early conservationists, including President Teddy Roosevelt, bison bounced back—and today they’re even off the endangered species list! In case you missed it, National Bison Day this year fell on November 5 (the first Saturday of November).
I typically don’t care much about celebrities; I don’t follow the gossip mags or obsess over who’s wearing what or who won which award. But when people (famous or otherwise) do wonderful things to help animals, I take notice. Here are five creative and inspiring celebrities helping animals in need—and using their fortunes, connections and popularity to make our world a better place:
Pamela Anderson: For those of us who have sworn off UGGs forever, look at these beautiful and warm “shearling”-style boots that are vegan, water-resistant and washable—and designed by model and actress Anderson. According to her new site, PAMMIES, “Our message is … Compassion is sexy.” Orders start shipping this month, with free U.S. shipping until December 31.
I’ve mentioned before that Jane Goodall is one of my heroes; I’m constantly in awe and inspired by her tireless work to help animals and the planet—and even at age 81, she seems to have more energy than most people half her age! As she continues to move forward passionately and make our world a better place, here are seven essential life lessons we can all learn from Jane Goodall.
1. Follow your childhood passions. It is reported that Goodall always loved animals. At age 1, her father gave her a toy chimpanzee, which she carried everywhere (and still has!). She loved her pet dog Rusty (and says dogs are still her favorite animal) and was fascinated by animals from her earliest memories, wondering how chickens laid eggs and bringing earthworms into her bed. So when she had the opportunity to study chimps in Tanzania, she took it.
I find TED Talks so inspirational and powerful; don’t you? I think what I like best (besides the amazing speakers) is that I learn something new each and every time I watch one. (Sometimes they even blow my mind!) So in case you haven’t seen these particular lectures yet, here are four of my favorite TED Talks for animal lovers:
1. Ian Dunbar: Dog-friendly dog training Veterinarian, dog trainer and animal behaviorist Ian Dunbar says, “When we train, we always try to take in the dog’s point of view.” Dunbar’s passionate about stopping the disrespect and abuse of dogs at the hands of owners with “horrendous interaction skills” who make terrible mistakes when attempting to train them. The talk, which starts out with helpful dog-training tips, eventually segues into the idea that humans and dogs aren’t so different after all—that the respect, love and patience you should give an animal to “train” them can also be used when raising children and managing the important relationships in your life.
2. Jane Goodall: How humans and animals can live together I’ve shared before that iconic chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall is my hero. It is so interesting here to hear her talk about how her community projects—such as TACARE (Take Care), which helps people in African villages develop empowerment and improve their standard of living—actually end up helping habitats and conservation efforts, too. She also discusses the planet’s environmental problems, but makes it clear she has so much hope for nature, humanity and endangered species. Goodall says, “We are part of, and not separated from, the amazing animals with whom we share the planet.”
3. Denise Herzing: Could we speak the language of dolphins? I absolutely love dolphins and am fascinated by their intelligence and social nature. Denise Herzing studies dolphin communication in the wild, and in her TED Talk, she reveals her promising research as she works to see if there’s a way for humans and dolphins to interact with each other using language. She shares great footage of these beautiful creatures and gives viewers a closer look at her experiments. She says, “Imagine what it would be like to really understand the mind of another intelligent species on the planet.”
4. Robert Full: Learning from the gecko’s tail Lizards are cool—and UC Berkeley biologist Robert Full shares how studying geckos and collaborating with other fields, like engineering, is leading to innovative technologies. (The high-speech footage of geckos alone is worth a watch.) He also points to the importance of conservation: “We must preserve nature’s designs, otherwise these secrets will be lost forever.”